By Kenesha Collins
Who do you think you are to accomplish that?
What makes you think people will think you are an expert?
You are not famous. Your book is probably not going to sell.
Success is for other people – not you.
Does any of the above sound like things you say to yourself more often than you’ll admit? I proudly raise my hand as I feel like this everyday. I’ve been a writer for over 15 years. I’ve been published in newspapers, magazines. I worked for nonprofits, and was co-editor on a grant proposal project for a K-12 school for students with special needs. I’ve written guest blog posts, and one of my opinion pieces got international attention, and was featured in The Voice, Britain’s only black national newspaper.
I’m also writing the 2nd draft of an urban romance novel. I’ve received feedback so far that I’m a great writer with a clean style. It would appear after reading all of this, that I’m confident in my abilities as a writer, and on a path to success, right?
After I finished my book, the strangest thing happened. I lost all faith in my abilities, and just tossed the book to the side for about a month. Every time I picked the book up to edit it, I had an overwhelming sense of what is called imposter syndrome. I read through the book, and felt like an amateur and undeserving of success. I got upset because writing and publishing a book has been my life’s dream. Now I’m at the finish line, and I was scared to death.
I had to take some time and confront these feelings head on or I wouldn’t have been able to move forward with my goals in life. I started by doing some soul searching. I looked inward and then outward. I asked myself why I had imposter syndrome about writing when it is one of my strongest talents. Writing is more than a passion, it’s a God given gift. I’ve studied it, and spent years perfecting it. When I was looking inside, I had to ask myself questions such as:
Are you scared of the extra pressure if your work becomes a success?
Are you scared of being your own boss, and having your own product?
Are you scared of the book being a flop and no one liking it?
I asked myself these questions, and the truth is, there was a greater fear of not publishing my book than everyone thinking it’s a flop. Also, I’ve been working towards success my whole life, and I didn’t want a lifetime to pass by, and never experience it. I started looking externally. I had to look at the people around me, and evaluate what they were saying to me on a consistent basis. I had people in my life saying things that put fear in me instead of encouragement. These people meant well, but what they were saying wasn’t helping. There were people in my life that weren’t taking me seriously. I had to make the difficult decision to back away. I don’t know for how long, but there had to be some distance for now.
If you’re on the verge of recognizing your biggest dreams in life, but facing imposter syndrome, here are some things to consider to help you overcome it:
Do some self-evaluations to find out where it came from.
Most of us have had critical people in our lives that gave us unwarranted advice. We may have been teased, harshly criticized, or even worse. If you’ve had any form of mental or emotional abuse, it can leave lasting scars and years of self-doubt and low self-esteem. If your mental and emotional state keeps you from even trying to accomplish your goals, I’d suggest seeking counseling by a professional mental health professional.
If there are people in your life that are hindering your success, you may need to take a step back from them. Some people enter our lives, and teach us lessons about what we should or shouldn’t accept. Have you ever had a frenemy? This person is sort of a friend, but they give you backhanded compliments, discourage you, or downplay your accomplishments no matter how big they are? These people don’t need to take up space in your life. I’ve heard many successful people say they lost a lot of friends on the way up.
Visualize the aftermath of your success.
If you’re dealing with a nagging feeling that success is meant for other people, or you can’t be a star in your field, there are ways to overcome it. When your brain tells you that you can’t, or your goals might be too big, it’s just a normal psychological process. In an interview with Marie Forleo, bestselling author, Elizabeth Gilbert discusses how the brain is designed to protect us from harm. The brain throws up caution signs when we dare to do something bigger than ourselves. Check out the full interview
- Think about how good it’s going to feel after you accomplish your dream. How is it going to feel after your book is published, and you actually see it on a bookshelf in a store?
- Think about how you’re going to feel after the launch of your line of desserts, food truck, or online business. Whatever your dream is, the moment you accomplish it will overshadow any self-doubt or fear you experienced. Stay focused on the end result.
Everyone has been in your shoes at one point.
Successful people aren’t any different than you. They were crippled by fear and loaded with self-doubt at one point. The difference is they didn’t stay crippled. They fought through their fears, and pushed the envelope to achieve their vision of success. You have to grit your teeth and bear it. Be prepared to lose a few hours of sleep finishing that chapter. Take extra courses in your field, perfect your recipes. Whatever you’re trying to do, you have to be willing to put in the work. Stay the course, celebrate your accomplishments and milestones, and don’t ever give up.
Copyright © 2020 by Kenesha Collins